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High-tech demo links long-distance lensers

Director and crew talk with remote editor, f/x house

Broadcasting live to a trio of studios, USC’s Entertainment Technology Center demo’d a new method enabling filmmakers to collaborate from several different locations.

In a mock location shoot, a director and his crew near Dodger Stadium were able to huddle with an editor in Burbank and a special f/x house in Vancouver, by using integrated satellite, wireless and various terrestrial capabilities. ETC put a lot of these pieces together in a seamless way for the first time.

The various modes of signal-carriage enable groups to go online together. So, for example, with the camera hooked up to a monitor, a scene is shot and sent directly through phone lines to an Avid machine, where an editor can immediately start work. The technology enables film work ranging from pre-production through dailies and effects.

Remote control editing

Randy Blotky, executive VP of WB worldwide consumer products and current chairman of ETC, said, “The technology, which will continue to evolve, will enable there to be in the future ‘digital dailies’ and long distance editing and viewing of dailies. It will speed the production process.”

The multi-location, real-time linkup required the coordination of some 40-odd companies, including GTE, PacBell and TRW. Hooked up to the demo were Universal Studios, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Warner Bros.

Allan Yasnyi, exec director of ETC, called the demonstration a “flawless performance.”

Helmer Alex Singer (“Murder, She Wrote”), who acted as director for the demonstration, said the new technology “makes for both greater complications and greater advantages down the line. I don’t think we can avoid engaging it.”

Added Blotky, “It will definitely happen. It’s a question of timing and cost as to when it actually takes off and has widespread usage.”

Costs uncertain

According to a rep from TRW, the cost of the system will depend on the number of people using the network, how much they use the network and bandwidth. Exact dollar figures were not volunteered.

Linda Carpenter, VP of advanced entertainment systems for SPE, said, “It is still premature to make decisions about how we’re going to use” the technology.” She called it a “collaborative production tool.” Carpenter added that SPE, which has been involved in supporting ETC since its inception five years ago, would continue evaluating the technology as it matures.

Universal declined comment.

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